April 21, 2010

Racial tensions at a San Ramon high school: do they exist on Walnut Creek campuses?

Maybe we don't live all live in post-racial harmony after all.  

That's becoming evident in our state and national arena.  Just yesterday, State Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco told reporters  he had received racist-tinged death threats since demanding greater transparency over Sarah Palin's June visit to Cal State Stanislaus. One fax he received contained an image of an American-flag-adorned truck dragging a noose.
But what about post-racial harmony in our safe, happy suburbs?

More information emerged this week about racial slurs and a noose-hanging incident at a San Ramon skate park that triggered at least one fight at California High School last week. 
A reporter with the news website, San Ramon Patch, interviewed students at the skate park who said that two white boys and a white girl initiated a dispute with racial slurs aimed a group of black girls. "Witnesses said the boys left the park and returned a short time later hanging a noose from their car window and shouting 'white power,'" the story said.
That incident apparently triggered a fight on the California High campus two days later involving an African American girl who was being attacked by two other girls. When Principal Mark Corti and other adults tried to break up the fight, the girl, a former Cal High student who recently transferred to a continuation high school, struck the principal. School officials describe it as a "glancing blow."
Maybe such racial tensions are not unique to San Ramon--or to its public school campuses. 
Back in October, I reported that police were investigating a number of racist incidents in Walnut Creek and other surrounding cities. These included an employee at a North Main Street Midas auto service who said he endured repeated racial slurs, racist graffiti scrawled in a restroom at Miramonte High School in Orinda,  and a teenager in Martinez harassing an African-American family at a park near the town's marina and shouting "white power!"
I don't remember things like this happening in Walnut Creek when I was growing up, or while attending middle or high school. Either I didn't hear about them or us white kids didn't have many non-white kids to have tensions with. In flipping through the pages of my high school year books from (dating myself!) the early 1980s, I don't see many non-white faces. I remember going to school with a few Hispanic and Asian kids but I don't remember any African-American classmates. I didn't get to know anyone African-American until I went to college outside Chicago. 

While student demographic information for when I was in high school is not easily available, I would venture to say that our Walnut Creek public school campuses are more diverse today than back then. Sure, our campuses and communities are not "diverse" by Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco standards, but they are certainly less white than when I was a student here.
Las Lomas High, which my son will attend in a couple years, is 69 percent white, 10 percent Asian, 7 percent Hispanic, and 3 percent African-American 
Northgate High is 68 percent white; 18 percent Asian, 8 percent HIspanic; and  2 percent African-American.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Walnut Creek's campuses are more diverse than they were 20, 30 years ago. Does it follow that kids today are more tolerant? From what I've observed of my son and his friends, they seem to be more tolerant. Do kids of different races and ethnic backgrounds mix in easy harmony in the cafeteria, off campus? Or do they self-segregate?

Maybe the kids--generally and with a few exceptions--are all right. Maybe it's the adults around these few exceptions who have the problem and who are advocating the idea that it's okay to yell things like "white power" and to hang nooses out of their cars while driving past community parks. 


Anonymous said...

Yee is simply playing the race card which is all too easy. Same thing with Obama's supporters- If you criticize the Pres then they say it's racist because he's black.

It's also a DNC tactic to keep minorities in-line.

Anonymous said...

And whoever sent Yee the fax with the noose is NOT playing the race card? Are you saying it's okay for someone to send Yee or whoever such a message? Is it okay to send death threats to Yee because he raises questions about Palin's appearance at the CSU? Is it okay to send the president death threats. Oh, I guess that's part of the DNC tactic to keep minorities in line

Anonymous said...

This is NOT ok at any high school. We are lucky at our school, which is very diverse. We are proud of the acceptance and tolerance and have had students transfer into our school from LL in Walnut Creek, Northgate and other districts. Their families have stated that because they are bi-racial their students were harassed and not felt welcome. Sad, sad times.

These schools and some of our Universities need to address this now. This is not acceptable at all.

As for our elected officials, people can disagree without nastiness, racial comments and threats. What is going on with our citizens? Our Nation was founded on immigrants.

On the other hand, I also disagree with all the entitlement hand outs. I see and hear it daily among some of our diverse community. They know where and how to get all the freebies.

Time for change, time for people to take personal responsibility. Time for parents to listen to themselves when they made comments about particular high schools because the majority population is not white.

By the way, I am white.

Anonymous said...

8:12 oh and lemme guess if you question anything to do with the idiot palin you must be pro-obama and hence a reverse racist...oh wait that is an easy card to play, thank goodness the RNC can keep "majorities" in line with the forward racism.

Anonymous said...

The 'threats' against Senator Yee should be as suspect as the highly reported documents regarding Ms. Palin's appearance that he was so outraged about.

Did anyone see any front page retractions when it was learned last week that the controversial contracts supposedly 'found' by the two political science students in the garbage had nothing to do with Ms. Palin? Oh hell no.

True racism is not acceptable at any level but so far there doesn't seem to be a clear definition of what today is considered racism. It is an easy argument to attempt to make your point by bringing up race.

An honest discussion of race and racism should not be reduced to personal attacks on either side of the political spectrum. If, in fact, we are honest with ourselves, we would all admit that each of us harbors some feelings of prejudice towards others.

Throwing stones to get attention does not solve any problems we face in today's world and does nothing to make you a better person.

Anonymous said...

Ya you are right...I guess i missed the retractions over the contracts because I was busy reading all those ACORN pimp story retractions that flooded the media. Then all that death panel stuff had me looking for panel jobs that didnt exist.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic...I had a conversation two weeks ago with three young ladies who are sophomores at Northgate. All three of them were disgusted about the racists attitudes at the school. It was interesting to hear them discuss the remarks made to students of color and to students were English was not their first language.

Anonymous said...

A noose is a noose. It has no color or race unless you apply your biases towards what it means based on your experience.

Noose=racist? Huh?

Anonymous said...

Hey good point!
Does that apply to a burning cross too?

Anonymous said...

Sure. Apply to it whatever it means to you. To me, it's anti-Christian contrary to how supremacists apply their own meaning.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good idea...
Maybe you could use the pic from your craigslist ad, you might have to enlarge it first though for the fax resolution to make the point

Anonymous said...

Why are these comments posted here? If you can't say it publicly, please don't say it here.

thank you,

Dakota Soul

Anonymous said...

I went to high school in Walnut Creek during the mid 90s. Back then, we didn't have any problems with racial tension. Yes, Walnut Creek seemed to have a lot of white people. However, we also had a selection of people from many different ethnic groups.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most tolerant areas in the world. We have many different cultures living together. We should be glad that we live in America instead of other countries where different ethnic groups are killing each other on a daily basis.

As time goes on, the number of intolerant people continues to decrease. We live in a continually changing and increasingly diverse and tolerant society.

Small incidences of racial tension get the spotlight in the news, but society is continually becoming more tolerant of other ethnicities. One incident publicized on the news doesn't suddenly trigger millions of people to go back to an era of racial intolerance. We have made much progress as a society and we continue to improve.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:34

I grew up in Texas and usually knew within moments if people were racists. In California I have found people to be more subtle about their racism. When you talk to them for long enough, you will hear comments such as, I don't want my child to be friends with someone who isn't white or I don't want my child to marry someone whose name I can't pronounce. I have even heard I don't want my child attending a school as a minority..this is America and whites are the majority.

Daffodil Hugger said...

Hi Anon 6:53,

Know where you're coming from & I grew up with the real out-front racists, including those in my own family. Maybe that was a better situation because it was clearly stated and easier to deal with.

The current racists are more subtle and/or devious. Nevertheless, they face the same judgment from higher authorities in the end.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like to believe racism is limited to white people. Perhaps these kids are simply reacting to racism directed against them from certain minorities? Did that ever occur to you?

lorrwill said...

You were being sarcastic about racial harmony in WC, right?
Because people still use the "n" word here to demean and marginalize.

And yes, I mean it has happened to me.

I am still completely dumbfounded by some of the hateful things some of the tea baggers were yelling as I drove by on the 15th.

And finally, there is a stormfront presence here in Walnut Creek. It doesn't get any worse than that.

Anonymous said...

I went to an LA public highschool in a middle class suburb very similar to Walnut Creek in the San Fernando Valley during the 80's. There was voluntary bussing to our school from ghettos and poor neighborhoods around LA. The students bussed in were mainly black and hispanic, cholos etc.

I can say that the students definitely self segregated unless they were in the same clubs. I would guess the football team had racial mixing due to blacks and whites being on the same team. I was in Drama and Choir. I don't recall any people of color in any of my club affiliations.

During lunch, the students also self segregated, and sat in different areas. Occasionally fights broke out between students, but I don't believe they were racially motivated...especially between whites and other races. Maybe other races fought each other or just fought within their own race.

Classes were also pretty segregated as the suburban kids who were assigned to the school were typically college bound and took those type of classes while the "minority" students were less likely to be college bound and were in other classes. I am not even sure what they were as I really never paid attention.

It seemed like people of other races were so different, (going both directions BTW) they just ignored each other or observed each others behavior from a distance and sort of poked fun amongst themselves of these differences.

I don't recall any real racial tensions in highschool.

I will say that living in Walnut Creek seems extemely lilywhite... simiar to Orange County. I went to UCI and lived in OC for 4 years, and the east bay areas of Walnut Creek, Danville, Lamorinda etc. remind me of OC more than LA for sure regarding attitudes, lilywhite area, cultural norms etc. The people look a little different, but act very similar even though the bay area claims to be democrat and OC is repub.

To be honest both areas are very similar.

Sorry if you disagree but I have lived all over California and this is my impression so racism in WC or Lamorinda or Danville does not surprise me in the least. I am actually afraid to tell people my family is jewish here because I feel a subtle racism that exists here in a big way.

Anonymous said...

The New York Times actually has a way to look up the demographic changes in a school district over the last 20 years. It can be found here.

Contra Costa County as a whole had 68% white students in '87. By '06 it was down to 45%.

San Ramon has gone from 89% white down to 70% white.

Acalanes has gone from 88% white to 82%.

Martinez has gone from 78% white to 70%.

Mt. Diablo has plummeted from 81% all the way down to 52%.

Anonymous said...

These incidents are happening more and more due to uneducated Whites moving into Walnut Creek and San Ramon area..Get them out..They are making the rest of us look bad..